OF ALL the contacts made by Bradford & Bingley's head coach Hugh Gumbs last year, few may prove as important as the one to James Morton.

The powerful back, who has been influential in recent matches as the ninth-placed Bees bid to stave off relegation fears in North One East, had to give up rugby union a couple of years ago due to heart palpitations.

However, Morton has not only been given the all-clear, he has also rediscovered his love for the game, proving a strong midfield presence as they defeated fifth-placed Morley 47-24 on the artificial grass at Keighley RUFC as Wagon Lane is out of action due to flooding.

"I had a bit of a problem," said Morton with a massive degree of understatement about his health two years back, "and went into cardiac arrest at Huddersfield YMCA.

"Morley was my fifth game back this season as I dislocated my thumb in pre-season against Otley.

"Prior to that I had lost a bit of interest in rugby as I have had a daughter (Emilia, who is now four months old) and so have had some family time but now I have got back to it, am enjoying it and am trying to work up to full match fitness - my weight is coming off slowly as age is catching up with me! - and playing some strong rugby.

"I am enjoying it a lot more now than I did before but I have big boots to fill in replacing Jamie Martin (gone back to Bridlington), who is strong and fit, so I am just trying to do the best I can for the lads every week."

If this performance is any indication, playing at Rose Cottage could prove a bonus for Gumbs' team.

After a sloppy start, they ran in seven tries against visitors who have lost their coach, former Bees supremo Colin Stephens, since the turn of the year and some of their players.

Morton agrees about the artificial turf being a benefit to his team, saying: "We have some decent backs when we get the ball out - we shipped it wide a lot here - and we scored plenty of tries so I think that it suits us.

"That is the best performance that we have had in the five games I have played and the lads are putting it together."

He added: "I have played on artificial pitches a bit when I played rugby league but so much union.

"It is rough on your hips and your knees but there are a couple of teams that have them in this league and Keighley have been kind enough to let us train here for the past month."

Morton apart, the influence of Andy Robinson at fly half should be noted as he scored two tries following his move from Bradford Salem, where he was struggling to get as much game time as he wanted.

Bradford & Bingley kicked off into the wind towards the clubhouse but didn't switch on and gave prop Joe Melhuish the freedom of the right wing.

That was a precursor of what was to come as more shoddy tackling allowed lock Tom Richmond - nephew of Morley stalwart Trevor - to score in the second minute, with fly half Mark Chester converting.

That seemed to wake up the 'home' side and a barnstorming run by No 8 Tom Cummins brought an equalising try four minutes later, with full back Lance Taylor converting.

Taylor then went over for a try in the 19th minute, after good work by winger Cameron Bainbridge down the right, but Morley responded three minutes after that with a try by full back Jason Kenneally on the left which Chester converted.

Morley then had a try ruled out for a forward pass from Kenneally to left winger Jay West and, on a breezy day, Chester then missed a penalty from just inside Bradford & Bingley's ten-metre line.

Robinson backed himself and succeeded in scoring a try from close in four minutes before the interval, with Taylor converting, and a tit-for-tat half ended with a Chester penalty, leaving the Bees 19-17 to the good.

Bradford & Bingley got away with a knock-on at the front of a line-out that referee Tom Hurdley did not spot and capitalised with a 44th-minute try for flanker Tom Booth, with the Maroons' tackling this time leaving something to be desired.

Taylor converted and Morley suffered a further blow with the sin-binning of scrum half Richard Knowles five minutes later for interference at a penalty.

The Bees cashed in with Robinson's second try in the 51st minute, Taylor converting to give the hosts a very handy 33-17 lead.

Left winger Adam Sutcliffe then broke away down the flank only to drop the ball over the line while being tackled, and Robinson, playing for his third club this season after Wibsey and Salem was then yellow-carded for a high tackle in the 66th minute.

Bainbridge's cover tackle just denied West a try in the scoreboard corner a minute later but the winger swapped flanks to go over three minutes later, with Chester's conversion making it 33-24.

Any Bees nerves were soothed, however, by tries from Booth in the 73rd minute and replacement Ben Hemsley - his first for the first XV - supporting centre Jack Malthouse's break, in the last minute, with Taylor converting both.

The win moves the Bees up a place to eighth and they are now eight points ahead of Percy Park, who are in the highest relegation place, with six matches left.

Morton warned: "I don't think that we are safe yet. We need to treat every game as a cup final and keep playing the way that we are playing and improving every week."